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This fall has been slow in coming. The leaves are changing, the days are shorter, but the temperatures are not cooling off much. It makes it hard to get into the mood of autumn. I got a little help from Georgia Heard. She has a sweet poem from Falling Down the Page called Recipe for Writing an Autumn Poem.

Recipe for Writing An Autumn Poem

by Georgia Heard
One teaspoon wild geese.
One tablespoon red kite.
One pint trembling leaves.
One quart darkening sky.
One gallon north wind.

This is a wonderful prompt to use with kids.

I decided to combine this poetry prompt with the National Writing Project and NCTE’s Day on Writing prompt #WhyIWrite.

Recipe for Why I Write

One teaspoon clean paper
One tablespoon colored ink
One cup imagination
One pint relationship
One quart dedication
One gallon liberation

An empty page invites color, lines, words, sentences
which become an expression of emotion
looking for connection. This relationship
is rocky, requiring dedication. But one thing is certain:
The freedom to write
belongs to everyone!

Margaret Simon, (c) 2019

Jaden responded with a beautiful recipe for writing.

A Recipe for Writing a Poem

by Jaden, 4th grade

One teaspoon of creative minds
One tablespoon of repeating and rhyming words
One cup of a magic image
One pint of dazzled emotion
One quart of comparing things with like and as
And one gallon of my heart

(free image from Pexels)
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In early September, my middle daughter gave birth to precious Thomas. She asked me, and I quickly agreed to travel with her to Monroe in North Louisiana for a leadership program meeting with the Louisiana Tourism Association. She is still on maternity leave, but she didn’t want to miss this meeting. What’s more important than being grandma? So I took a few days off to go with her.

I thought I would be stuck in a hotel room, that I may get some reading, writing, and lesson planning done. I was pleasantly surprised by a park connected to the parking lot of the hotel. With the baby in the stroller, we headed out to the trail.

The beauty of this fall day greeted me with a cool breeze and sunlight through the trees.

Red spider lilies dotted the path.

Baby Thomas slept through the outdoor adventure, the first of many to come.

A lone egret looked at its reflection in the lily-covered swamp.

I read the kiosk to learn about this beautiful, wild park. For 50 years, the area had been a sand and gravel pit. Later, many residents used it as a dumping ground. What do you do with such an eyesore? The city of West Monroe excavated the trash and created a wild space, restoring the area to wetlands that accomplish a number of goals, controlling flooding as well as providing the community with a beautiful place of nature to enjoy. Not to mention, a place of peace for a grandma and baby grandson.

Poetry Friday: I Am

Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Catherine at Reading to the Core.

Every week I am delighted to visit The Poem Farm. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posts a poem and a student writing activity. A few weeks ago, I borrowed this post, The Real Me, and wrote I am poems with my students.

My students loved the activity. Many of them chose to post their poems on our kidblog site. I invited Amy to write comments. You should have heard them reading aloud their personalized comments; the pride in their voices made my heart sing. Amy has a talent for connecting to kids and finding just the right words to say. Thanks, Amy.

I wrote alongside my students. I put together my favorite lines to create this poem:

I am a lionness
set in the stars,
that drumbeat
around a warm campfire.

I am a longing look
from a silent child,
a melody strummed
on his guitar.

I am a secret
scratched on a yellow sticky note.
Don’t tell anyone
who I am.

Margaret Simon, after Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels
Sunshine, a Blessen Novel

Sunshine, the sequel to my first middle grade novel Blessen is coming soon from Border Press. I published Blessen in 2012 and began writing this sequel. I’m excited that her story with Sunshine, her new hen, and Harmony, a new friend, will finally be out in the world. Publication day is Oct. 15, 2019. The cover is a collage by Marcie Melancon, a New Iberia artist.

The Blurb:

Blessen LaFleur’s life is once again taking more twists and
turns than the bayou she lives near. Blessen is growing up
and taking on the responsibility of raising a hen, Sunshine,
who is broody and bothered. In this sequel, Blessen meets
Harmony who is homeless and missing her mother. Blessen’s
caring nature leads her to save Harmony from the despair of a
strange foster home by stealing her away on an adventure.
Together they call themselves “the guardians of nature.” When
an accident reveals Harmony to the grown-ups in Blessen’s
life, they both learn of the strength of family and love.

You can read the first review at A Word’s Worth by Diane Moore.

If you are interested in reading a pdf copy and writing a blog review, please let me know in the comments.

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Nature and beauty
is pretty.
The trees, the wind,
and everything you know.
Beauty in the diamonds
and when I look inside,
I see the face
I love.

Annie, 4 years old

I was asked to teach a writing workshop for kids at the Hilliard Museum’s Play Day. “You have to be flexible because we’re never really sure who will show up.”

Annie came in with her father. I’ve met Annie a few times because our paths have crossed. I’m friends with her grandmother, and her mother is a journalist who has connected me with writing opportunities. So when she walked in, I greeted her, “Hi Annie. We are writing poems today. Would you like to write a poem?”

She began… “Yes. Nature and beauty is nice because…” and she continued.
“Wait,” I said pulling out a clean piece of paper and a pen. “I wasn’t ready. Now slow down, and I’ll write what you say.”

Me with “Princess” Annie posing for a picture to send to Nanna B.

She is already a poet. I didn’t read one of my poems. I didn’t talk to her about forms. I didn’t give her any suggestions. She already knows how to write a poem.

Then we made a zine, a small foldable from a single sheet of paper. “Now,” I explained. “I could write the words for you, and you can draw the pictures.”

“No, I can write the words.” And she could! She copied the words she had dictated to me into the book. This took her at least 30 minutes. I was amazed at her focus and her determination. I was also amazed at her father’s patience. He sat comfortably while she meticulously copied each word.

The gifted teacher in me noted signs of perfectionism. When she messed up a letter, she got upset and rubbed it as if to erase it. I said, “Don’t worry. You can just make that a picture.”

Her letter a with the too long tail became what looked to me like a bug. I asked her, “Is this a butterfly?”

“No, it’s Diamond. Daddy, does it look like Diamond?”

“Yes, it does,” Daddy promptly said.

I looked at him and whispered, “Who’s Diamond?”

“Her imaginary friend” His whispered reply.

Annie continued writing word for word. An i placed in the wrong place became a tree.

When she finished, I said, “You need to sign it ‘by Annie’.”

She asked, “On the back?”

I showed her my book, Bayou Song. “On my book, my name is on the front. It says ‘Poetry by Margaret Simon.'”

Of course, Annie wrote on the front “Poetry by Annie.”

She is the youngest poet I’ve ever met, yet I have no doubts she is a writer. Just like her mom.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Cheriee’s blog, Library Matters.

This month I challenged my writing partners, the Sunday Night Swaggers, to write zeno poems. This fun form was created by J. Patrick Lewis and is based on a mathematical sequence of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 with each 1 syllable line rhyming. This is one of my favorite forms to use with children. The syllable count is doable, and there’s the added challenge of rhyme.

Even though the temperature hasn’t changed (we have highs in the mid 90’s still.), the signs of fall are here: shorter days, browning cypress, and high sugarcane.

Sugarcane is taller than me.
Tangled green stalks
above
rise
reaching for fall’s
azure
skies
field of beauty
in my
eyes.

Margaret Simon, draft

Autumn sounds like a sad songbird
singing under
grapevine
shade
where blossoms from
springtime
fade
empty bird’s nest
hidden
grayed.

Margaret Simon, draft
Sugarcane field

Visit other Sunday Night Swaggers Posts:

Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise

More Spiritual Journey posts are gathered at Karen Eastland’s blog. Click the image.

This month Karen chose Beauty as the theme for our Spiritual Journey posts. I was looking through a magazine and came across the word “Beautiful,” so I decided I needed to make a collage. I love making collages, but don’t do it often. When other things get in the way, we tend to put aside the little creative things that make us happy. You feel guilty spending time on a frivolous pleasure. But it’s that very pleasure that keeps us creative and happy.

Beauty is…
giggles from a grandson
roses in bloom
hot-air balloon on a summer morning
kitten running sideways
glass of red
moss swaying in the breeze
egret flying over the sugarcane field
chocolate, dark with mint
a cuppa latte with a petal in the froth
these words,
I love you.

Margaret Simon, 2019, draft